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Design Start Centers to drive Business Performance - Part I

It is Christmas time, and everyone is busy preparing cupcakes at home and enjoying time with their families. The snow storm outside turned out to be much more intense than it was predicted. With heavy snow, trees started falling down. Some of trees fall on the electrical distribution lines. Now a complete blackout in the area. You are a Maintenance Manager, so you start getting multiples calls. You create emergency work orders to attend the problem and assign them to your crew.

Your crew is disbursed in the field at multiple sub-stations. They use Maximo Start Center to monitor and prioritize their work queue. Due to design gap in the Start Center, these emergency work orders appear last in the priority and gets missed by the crew. Scary right?

Start Center in Maximo (also can be referred as Dashboard or Landing Page) is a very powerful tool. In one place, it provides information about critical tasks, alerts and actions to business users as per their roles and job responsibilities.

However, at the same time, once the Start Center starts showing too much information or irrelevant information, it tends to lose its importance. Often this is the starting point when the users start ignoring the information present there. So it is important to carefully design Start Center so that it displays meaning information which assist users in smoothly running business.

Before starting the requirements discussion for Start Center, it is a good idea to provide a walkthrough to them of the Out of the Box Start Center or a sample explaining the benefits of various Start Center features. If business has Maximo background, it will make the job easier. However still remember that Business may not provide all the information upfront because even they haven't thought through these. They will answer the questions which are asked; so guiding them through the design with the right set of questions will lead to a comprehensive design.

Given below are some guidelines for designing Start Centers which will assist Business Users in driving their Performance:

1.       Identify Roles: Study different Business Roles who will use system and understand their top 3 responsibilities. Their top 3 responsibilities will provide good insights into what the users would be interested in to see in their Start Center. This information directly drives the Resultsets, KPIs, identify Favorite Applications, identify Quick Insert Applications and Report Lists.

Of all these, Resultsets are the most important from business perspective and most frequently used. Name the Resultsets which are intuitive to business.

2.       Apply the right filters: The beauty of the notifications is lost if they are too many. Imagine dealing with 20 records vs 200 records. So discuss with Business, think through diligently and work out appropriate filter criteria which should be applied to show the records. Right set of filters will ensure that the Resultsets are relevant and usability is high

3.       Default Sorting is important: When user login to Maximo, the Start Center is loaded with all the Resultsets. In the Resultsets, most relevant records should appear at the top by default; so that users don't have to sort or search the records again. Therefore, default sorting for Resultsets is important. Most frequently used criteria for sorting is date; typically, with 2 options: Newest record at the top or Oldest record at the top. A good understanding of business is needed to carefully make this choice. If a huge backlog of work is expected for valid business reasons; then going by the oldest record at the top will almost always lead to the newest records getting least attention. On the other hand, having newest record at the top risks the chances of missing the SLAs.

Secondly, try to keep date criteria as the 2nd or 3rd sorting criteria after identifying other critical parameters which business will be more interested to see and address first. It could be based on Priority, $ amount, or Type. Business can provide good insights into it.

4.       Avoid Horizontal Scroll: Select appropriate columns which are most important to business. Keep it to a minimum number of relevant columns to avoid horizontal scrolls. Having 5-8 columns is appropriate based on the screen space available. Label the columns appropriately which makes sense to Business.

......continue on Part II

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